Cindy L. Meester's Blog- Speech Therapy with a Twist

End of the year “round up”….

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on May 23, 2016
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It’s close to the end of my school year so I thought I would dust off my boots and end it with a wild west theme. I have made theme boxes with materials that I have collected over my many years in this rodeo we call speech therapy. The cowboy box is one of many. So mosey on over to my ranch (aka speech room) and I’ll show ya’ a few things that I am using.

My door– images taken from google, stickers and a picture of me with friends on our horses (a fun trip we took to Wyoming and Montana last summer). My table– shower curtain (Kohls for 3.00), stuffed horse, books from the media center and a stable of horses. My white board– hats from the dollar store (held up by magnets). My cabinets outside of my room- books from the media center, horse head from a thrift shop and fake barbwire from (Hobby Lobby). My file cabinet– horseshoe magnets (dollar store) hats and boots.


I scrounged thrift stores and found an inexpensive cowboy shirt and leather vest. The kids loved dressing up and wearing these along with a hat and a bandana. It’s a lot more fun being dressed like a cowboy or cowgirl when you are practicing your skills. Oh and don’t underestimate the power of a dollar store mustache!

I found several web sites that would create wanted posters. This site was the one that printed the pictures the best. Create a wanted poster   I tried several free apps but there were too many advertising pop ups.

How did I use this with IEP goals? Well how could you not!

  1. Problem solving What is a nickname? What nickname can you use for your wanted poster? Here are a few of the nick names we came up with- Wild Woman, Sparkles, Smiley, Grumpy, Slim, Red, Picker, Curly, Sweetie, Muzzle Loader, Bella, Flash, Crusher Here are some we found via Google:  The Kid, Itchy Trigger, Snake-eyes, Cotton Mouth, Deadeye, Texas, Arkansas, Dusty, Loco, Lefty, Lucky, etc. You can find some more here:Nicknames  and this site will create a cowboy/girl name and a crime for you Cowboy Name Generator (note these may not always be kid friendly).
  2. What is a crime and what crimes would a cowboy/girl commit?  Here are a few that we used: bank robbin’, varmit shootin’, train robbin’, cattle rustlin’,  jaywalkin’, speedin’, horse stealin’, etc.
  3. Following directions- it takes a lot of language and listening skills to decide what to wear for your wanted poster picture
  4. Sequencing- what goes on first hat, mustache, bandana, shirt/vest and why?
  5. Emotions/ feelings- What kind of wanted person are you? What are you feeling or thinking? Can you show that in your picture?
  6. Our whole school uses the Zones of Regulation  so we can talk about what zone the culprit would be in when they were robbin’, chased by the sheriff or just ridin’ their horse, etc.This also works well for discussing the size of the problem.

Here are a few of the wanted posters that we created.

We worked a lot on the same skills but added a western twist. Other cowboy and cowgirl activities we did included:

  1. Lots of cowboy/cowgirl books- a fun way to work on vocabulary, sequencing, listening skills, finding words with your speech sound, making inferences, etc.
  2. Put a picture/object under a cowboy hat and give clues
  3. Barrier games:  use cowboy stickers and a western scene (I used images I found by googling western backgrounds or you could create your own)
  4. I  made a cowboy/cowgirl bingo game with vocabulary and pictures. I’d love to share it but I created it a long time ago and used pictures from google. Here are a few resources for vocabulary:Cowboy Vocabulary American West/Cowboy Vocabulary/SlangABC Teach Cowboy Rodeo Theme

A few resources:( Apps- there are a lot of shooting apps which I did not use)

  1. Cowboy Set 5.99
  2. Pecos Bill app – 2.99
  3. Cowboy Toddler– free app- shapes, letters, colors, etc.
  4. Cowboy Alphabet – free app
  5. Simoo- simon says app with cows – free app
  6. Tizzy Cowboys and Cowgirls– 2.99-  or Lite version-free app
  7. Mystery Word Town – Sight Word Spelling – 2.99 app
  8. Old Western Movies – free app

Well partner it’s time for me to mosey on out and feed them horses. Here’s to you adding a your own twists to this theme.


Cindy “Countin’ The Days” Meester

me 2 It was hat day at school- my cowboy theme was lucky timing! I even had on my speech lips sweater!



Not a Stick…

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on May 3, 2016
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Last posting I showed how I used the Not a Box book. This time I used Not a Stick for our creative and imagination adventures.

This book follows the same format as Not a Box. It has one sentence on a page along with cute line drawings of pig and his/her imagination. This time pigs finds a stick and let’s his/her pretend play turn it into a artist’s brush, sword and other imaginative objects.

First we read the book and made guesses of what the pig had imagined his/her stick to be. The book is set up to show pig standing with the stick and the next page shows what it becomes. It was a interesting to see what guesses my students made.

I gave each student a blank card stock paper and a bag of sticks. What will their imagination turn the stick into? I tried to steer them to new ideas and not just ones from the book. It wasn’t too hard to do. Once they had their idea I hot glued a stick to their paper and they drew their object.

I did not have them draw themselves. I took their pictures and printed them to add to their creations. See below for some of the finished results!



I even had a crown for the princess.



I can’t wait to see what my other students create!

Now for the twist. What app can pair up with this book you ask? Here are a few suggestions:

Draw a Stickman – free

Draw a stickman– this one is done on your computer

Draw a Stickman: Epic 2 – 1.99

Draw a Stickman: Epic HD -2.99

Draw a Stickman Epic- free – free

Doddlecast by Sago – 2.99

Now it’s time to add your own twists… Let me know by leaving a comment or two.





Not a Box…

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on April 7, 2016
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I took a book idea that my friend Sean Sweeney (Speech Techie) shared at the ASHA convention in November. He had many great ideas on pairing apps with literacy (books). Of course I added my own twists.

1. I chose the book Not a Box by Antoinette Portis.


2. I read it to some of my K-2nd grade students. We worked on making predictions, using our imaginations and thinking outside as well a inside of the box- I couldn’t resist. wink

3. Then I added a twist by giving each student a sheet of paper that I had drawn a “box” on it.

4. They were asked to turn their box into something from their own imagination.

5. Per Sean’s suggested pairing we used the Toca Boca Robot Lab  and Moonbeeps-Gizmo apps once their creations were completed. This was a fun way to work on turn taking, compromising and requesting. The other app suggestion (from Sean)  is Doddle Buddy.

6. I displayed their creations along with the book and of course a cardboard “not a box” on the cabinets outside my room.

Here are the final results:




A rocketship, a spaceship, a house, a pool, another house, a treehouse boat



A house, a monstersaurus, a car, a zombie, a treehouse, a TV

Bonus: To add another twist I plan on gathering a plethora of different kinds and sizes of boxes to make creations that are not a box! Think of all the language skills we can build on in this activity- vocabulary, sequencing, requesting, comparing, contrasting, etc. Three apps I plan to use with this activity are :Adobe Voice, Go Sequencing and Making Sequences . I can take pictures of each step and create a sequencing activity within these apps.

What twists have you added to a book or app?



Giving Fall a hand…..

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on October 14, 2015
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We did a fun easy craft in our OT/Speech group this week. It was all about working on fine motor skills, following directions and vocabulary. I can see doing this for articulation and writing target words on the branches, pumpkins or paper leaves.

Here is what we used:

  1. construction paper – we used white but the choice is endless
  2. crayons – you could use colored pencils or markers
  3. confetti leaves and silk leaves – this is what we had picked up from the dollar store but any leaves would work- if you use paper leaves you could add even more words
  4. your hand – to trace around (now do you get the blog post title?!)
First trace your hand and arm to create branches and trunk. We wrote the word FALL on the trunk and thought of fall words to write on the branches.

First trace your hand and arm to create branches and trunk. We wrote the word FALL on the trunk and thought of fall words to write on the branches. All our students choose to trace their own arm.

We drew pumpkins along the bottom. Tall ones, round ones, small ones, fat ones, etc.

We drew pumpkins along the bottom. Tall ones, round ones, small ones, fat ones, etc.

We glued on leaves. Some of the tree, under, next to, etc.

We glued the leaves- on the tree, under, next to, etc.

Ta da! The final project.

Ta da! The final project.

Now it’s your turn to twist this into your own therapy activity!



Mum’s the word….

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on October 12, 2015
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Here is what I added to my speech room door.


I used Streamer Paper Crepe from Party City. The big google eyes were from Target’s Dollar Spot but I have found them in craft stores. The pumpkins were printed from Word clip art.

I used talking bubbles in Word and typed in the jokes. The “jokes” were found on this site: Mummy Jokes



The therapy twist

Most students were asked to answer the “joke” before looking at the answer.

My older students discussed the double meaning of the jokes.

My little ones labeled what was on my door.

Now add your own Twists!



The calm before the scheduling storm…

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on September 5, 2015
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So my summer is over and school will begin after Labor Day. I survived the 5 days of professional development and got my speech room set up. This year I took “before” pictures to remind me that once upon a time everything was organized. So take a peek before it gets all “twisted!”



image image image

Now on Tuesday this space will morph into a blizzard of class lists, teacher schedules, post it notes and pulled out hair. Yes it will be time to once again reinvent the wheel also known as scheduling. But as I have found in the past 38 years this can be accomplished with many tweaks along the way AND throughout the school year. I’ll see you once I shovel out the mess and actually start with students!

So here’s where I should comment about my lack of posts but how about some fun pictures from my summer vacation instead! I am so lucky to have lifelong friends who wanted to celebrate our milestone birthdays (yes 60 of them) by taking a trip to Wyoming and Montana. Cowboys, happy hour, whitewater rafting, happy hour, pig races, happy hour, horseback riding, happy hour, shopping, happy hour, rodeo, happy hour, mountain exploring and did I mention happy hour?! Many memories and laughs were shared.


So with a new year beginning I am making no promises that my posts will be on any kind of schedule. I did promise myself that I would share any therapy ideas that others may find useful. If you’ve read my blog you know I like therapy with a twist so stay tuned. I do have some Wild West ideas galloping through my brain and will try to rein them into therapy. Of course I found therapy materials on my trip I am an SLP after all.

Can’t wait to see the twists you add to your therapy sessions!




Door Posters this set also contains We ♥️ Posters

Speech Ninjas

Wooden Wall words were bought at the MN state Fair but can be ordered here: Wall Words

The Listen Board was from Target’s Dollar Spot

We ♥️ Posters

Common Core Cans from Nicole Allison

Material Open Top Containers I used left over borders and taped them inside to get a more uniform look. I also did this to the portable storage drawers.

The fun seating- the flat seats were from Target on clearance. You can see what twist I added to these- Seating Twist

The ball chair was given to our school this year. A furniture company did a photo shoot this summer and donated all the furniture to our school- standing desks, carts, etc.

The “talk back chattering teeth” record your voice. I bought them on my summer vacation at a Cracker Barrel restaurant and could not find them online. I did see one on eBay.  Sorry!

The M & M dispenser was bought at the M & M store in Las Vegas. They sell them other places too. And no I no longer fill it with candy…darn heathy eating in schools.

My Fairy Door was bought from a wonderful New Zealand craftsman (Imagination Doors) who has moved and closed shop….temporially I hope.

You never know who you might run into….

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on April 21, 2015
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Back in December I posted about using the Elf on the shelf in therapy (ours was named Lucy). You can see the post here: Elf on the Shelf in Therapy

You may remember that Steve the dwarf was also visiting the speech room at the same time.


Well after the winter break our therapy sessions discussed why Lucy and Steve were no longer in the speech room.  Lucy had flown back to the North Pole and would not be returning but might visit again in the winter. Steve has decided it was just too cold in MN and left for someplace warmer. This led to brainstorming what places might be warmer, how he traveled etc.  So time passes and spring break finally arrives!


I was lucky to have the same spring break as my granddaughter so we used free airline tickets to fly to Las Vegas. Plus we stayed at a resort for the week for 59.00! Yes we had a warm relaxing trip with a few sightseeing adventures. But the best of all is who we ran into…. STEVE!

Steve collage

I made sure to take pictures so I could share them with my students. It was so fun to see their faces when I posted the pictures in my room. This too led to a lot of fun therapy twists. Such as:

  1. How did he get there?
  2. Does he want to come back? (No- he likes the warm weather there- Plus I think he may enjoy gambling but don’t tell my students!)
  3. Where does he live?
  4. Will he come back here next year?
  5. It also was a way to bring some idioms into therapy- “ran into,” “loafing around,” “dead-end” (some kids thought he might live at a dead-end street), etc.

So have you run into anyone that let you add a therapy twist to your speech sessions?



Appy New Year – Yapp Guru Expert Linky!


(Click on this icon to view other bloggers 10 favorite apps)

This is only 10 of my go to apps in 2014. Believe me it was hard to choose only 10. I’m sharing the apps that I turned to the most to fit the needs of my present caseloads at school and the speech clinic.Plus these are ones  that are not necessarily “speechie” apps and I can add a twist to make it fit many of my therapy goals.

So drum roll … and in no particular order… Here goes.

1. News-O-Matic This is a subscription based app that I happened to get on sale. The news changes daily and is made for kids. It has short articles, videos, slide show, maps and fact links for each article. The articles can be read to you. Targeted vocabulary words have links to definitions. Cost: free app with in-app purchases




2. Custom Boards This is an app that I use to create materials. Often I use it during therapy sessions and we can create a new vocabulary game or list together. It has many different templates. You can use your own pictures, ones in the app or from google. Cost: 49.99

custom board


3. Sago Mini Doodlecast   This app is like a white board with at twist. There are 30 drawing prompts but you get to finish them. As you draw you also record your story. When you are finished it will play back each stroke you drew and what you said as you were drawing. Lots of therapy twists here. Be sure to check out the other apps from Sago Sago too. Cost:2.99



4. Describe it to me There are over 160 pictures to use to work on improving describing skills. There are six different questions that target category, function, parts, location, visuals, and extras. You can work on this app in the receptive mode and chose a correct answer or in the expressive mode and create your own responses. Cost: 9.99


5. Spot it HD This is just like the popular Spot card games. In the app you can play solo games or up to 4 players. You can also set the game to easy (6 symbols), normal (8) or hard (10).  There are options for timed or untimed play. Cost: 2.99



6, 7 and 8. Between the lines level 1Between the lines level 2 and Between the lines advanced These apps are ones that I used to work on inferences, body language, facial expressions, perspective taking and slang. The videos and real photographs helped my caseload a lot. These apps also can be found in lite versions. Cost: 15.99 or .99 for lite versions

Between-the-Lines      Between-the-Lines      between-the-lines-level-1-e1355113526607

9. Articulate it! This app has recently been updated and now includes fun backgrounds you can switch up. You can also add you own pictures, words and sentences. My twist with this app is to use it with my fluency students and my language students. I can create my own sets of words/pictures for specific needs. Watch for more updates that will contain stories for even more practice…coming soon! Cost: 39.99



10. FingerPaint Duel  This app is made to encourage “playing together creatively.”  In the app two players try to finger paint a shape and get the most points. My twist we talk about strategies- which size pencil would work the best and why, should you use the eraser or not, etc.  Cost:  Free and Full app 2.99


Now it’s your turn to share your favorite apps and the twists you use with them.



12 perks and knee jerks of 2014 in the life of an SLP (me)

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on December 22, 2014
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Another year has once again moved past me. It continues to move with lightning speed on some days and at a slow motion pace on others. I guess you might call this an end of the year reminiscing blog but maybe I’ll add a few twists.

The twelve whoas and fist pumps of this past year. (in no particular order as my brain functions on random organized chaos)

12. My caseload is somewhat manageable at 49 with ebbs and flow.

11. My finds at thrift stores and on TPT have created bulging cabinets once again. Yes I will keep looking for a Cariboo game for you too.

10. I’m honored to have my blog listed as one of the Top 75 Speech Pathology Websites for 2015. Oh the pressure! Be sure to check out the list and some fun sites.

9. This has been a year of procrastination (sometimes this works in my favor..wink wink). I’m not one for making a New Year’s resolution but if I was this should be one but I’ll wait and just think about it.

8. Missing ASHA this year was a definite whoa or better yet woe is me. I missed reconnecting with SLPs and getting my brain regenerated. Fingers crossed for next year in Denver.

7. I have a great team of teachers and special education staff that I work with at my school plus a speech room with a window.

6. Summer was a way to unwind, relax and still work at the speech clinic to keep my skills growing.

5.  Having my first /r/ in therapy to work on improving since moving to this school 4 years ago. I know it’s like how could you avoid it! Well my school was K-3rd so in MN if you have only one sound error like /r/ you won’t qualify until you are 9.  But now my school is K-4 and will be K-5 so guess what… 9 year olds with /r/ errors. Oh lucky me!

4. Mindfulness has been a skill our whole school has been learning and working on. (I’ve got a ways to go yet.)  It’s a great asset when a whole school has common vocabulary. Check out SpeechTechie and his posts about Calming.

3. Being a part of Smarty Ears advisory board and Yapp Guru app experts (oh yeah I’ve been procrastinating on my app reviews too).

2.  A blog started in 2009 that was born from a defunct Backflip bookmark site with a list of resources to my ramblings and twisted ideas for therapy (is that a perk or a jerk??).

1. Thinking back to my start in 1977 (with only my BS degree) with no internet it’s amazing how easy it to locate great resources from the explosion of slp bloggers, TPT sellers, website resources and apps.

So how was your year? What twists do you have to share? 








PS- Of course family is a perk (most of the time) but this post was about the year in an SLPs life

PSS- Just a few videos for a fun way to close out the year.

 Working on Waiting

Diesel speed (these two pups are mine- kinda how I felt on some of my hectic days at work)

The highs and lows of the Elf on the Shelf

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on December 17, 2014
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I won an Elf on the Shelf kit. I debated about using it at my school. My students are in K-4th grade and 98% are from different cultures. But since I won this kit I thought we could add our own twists to it.

I told each group that we had visitors move into the speech room. We skimmed* through the Elf on the Shelf book and talked about who celebrates Santa and who didn’t. I shared that our elf was a girl so my first group (1st graders) were the lucky ones to name her. Meet Lucy who now hangs out in the speech room.

*(I often just use a books pictures and make it fit my students needs vs. reading it word for word.)



We learned that she has two rules.

  1. She can’t talk to us.
  2. Only adults can touch her otherwise she would lose some of her magic.

She keeps an eye on us to be sure we are all doing our jobs during speech. Yes even me.  If we are not following a direction or getting a little too silly someone often states “Lucy” and surprisingly it works!

I understand the whole Elf on the Shelf can do some really crazy things herself. But not ours she is very well behaved and just likes to keep tabs on what we do in speech.  So here is how we use her. When each group comes in they look for her and need to say “I found her. She is under the desk (or wherever)”  Making a statement that “She is right there” won’t fly in the speech room. The students then get to decide where she should be next. This leads to a lot of practice for prepositions and even a fun game of “hot or cold”.  If you haven’t played hot or cold it’s what you say when you are close (hot) to  Lucy or far away (cold). The best terms we have used are “hot chocolate, icicle, North Pole”  I’m sure you could think of others.

Remember I said we had 2 visitors move in… well meet Steve the Dwarf in the Drawer. And yes the students named him too.  I’m thinking his name came from a character in minecraft.


“Steve” introduced himself this past summer in a clearance section and he begged me to take him home. So being a good SLP I knew I would find a way to use him in therapy. He also comes with a book. I again just skimmed through it with my students and told them that he really doesn’t like Lucy. He doesn’t think these Elves should be watching and reporting to Santa about us, let alone moving in! He lives all year at the house/speech room and hates having his routine interrupted.  

He doesn’t like rules so anyone can touch him but he’s not much of a talker. The students do the same thing spotting and moving him each day too.  He just doesn’t want to be too close to Lucy. He can hide in more places too as he doesn’t need to keep an eye on us. He’s making sure Lucy isn’t too much of a busy body or taking down wrong information about us.


Having two visitors has made this month a fun way to target different IEP goals.

  1. compare/contrast
  2. prepositional concepts
  3. descriptive language
  4. vocabulary
  5. idioms/metaphors
  6. social skills: cooperation/team work

Oh and one more twist – my kit came with the birthday kit also. So students who have birthdays this month were thrilled to see that Lucy dressed up for them. Who knows maybe she will hang around and celebrate more birthdays.


So have you used the Elf in your setting? What twists have you added?




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